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Lost Planet 3: First look at Capcom's risky open-world prequel

Capcom rolls the dice with a massive change in direction...

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In the first Lost Planet NEVEC had become a dictatorial force, rounding up the rebel Snow Pirates and plotting to scour the planet of all life in their terraforming efforts, but 150 years earlier humanity went to war against the Akrid and lost.

In the years before that war, NEVEC sought to make the world habitable one acre at a time, using the thermal posts you'll have found littered throughout Lost Planet 1 and 2, but even in the glory days of the corporation there are rumours that maybe NEVEC isn't telling their workers the whole story about EDN III. It's a secret Jim will begin unravelling in the game's very first missions.


Lost Planet 3 begins at NEVEC's home base on EDN III. Jim sleeps in his Rig as a pre-recorded message to his wife is mailed back home. He's awoken by NEVEC's mechanic, fitting a zipline to the Rig for speedy access out in the field, and he'll need it, because ice storms can descend in seconds and Akrid swarm in their dozens out in EDN's frozen wastes.

Around the base Jim can talk with NPCs, accept side quests, upgrade his Rig and equipment using T-ENG - a commodity rather than a health resource in Lost Planet 3 - and buy new weapons, but for Capcom's Captivate demo from around an hour into the game it's straight into the story as Jim takes on a mission every other worker turned down.

A new breed of Akrid has them scared but the local NEVEC boss is prepared to pay double for Jim's help; a nearby location needs scouting, Akrid or no, and Jim is desperate enough to do it. The sooner he can get rich, the sooner he can return home, and so he mounts up in his Rig and prepares for launch.

Lost Planet, it's been said, was a mech sim masquerading as a third-person shooter and Kenji Oguro's mech fetish has never been more obvious than in Lost Planet 3. The Rig's startup sequence is pure anime fantasy - as the Rig's HUD boots up you'll step onto a conveyer and slide through underground tunnels, you'll get sprayed with de-icer and receive warnings about what categories of storm your Rig is rated to withstand, and finally you'll use the Rig's left grabbing arm to wrench open the frozen doors. The Rig is piloted in first person, with triggers and shoulder buttons handling primary and secondary left and right arm attacks.

Outside, EDN III is a beautiful hell; ice storms blanket the horizon, the bright sun flares in the sky, and the howling wind rattles the Rig. "We're not a true open world game in terms of going anywhere and doing anything at any time," says Szymanski. "We use a 'hub and spoke' system - certain areas in the world have branching paths you can go explore and achieve missions, provided you have the right kit for it. Until Jim gets the grappling hook, for instance, he's not going to be able to get up to higher areas. It's very much a driven story and a narrative driven experience. You have the core story missions that are one after the other and they lead you though the story and then you've also got optional side missions we use to flesh out the experience."


On his way to his objective Jim passes and ignores one of those sidequest beacons shortly before receiving an incoming storm warning - more storm than his Rig can handle - and it's on him before he can react. In seconds the Rig is frozen solid so Jim kicks his way out and begins machine-gunning the metre-thick ice from the Rig's joints. Attracted by the gunfire, Akrid swarm upon him and a lengthy siege ensues with Jim clearing ice between battles with the panther-like Akrid hunters.

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